The Museum of Art & History at the McPherson Center

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Art Works: June 1st – September 25th, 2016

Carmina Eliason, ReMexico

Carmina Eliason, ReMexico

2nd floor Solari Gallery

Take a step into a practicing artist’s studio. Create work with puppetmakers, composers, embroiderers, and nestbuilders.

This summer, eleven artists will transform the MAH’s Solari Gallery into a series of open, functioning artist’s studios. You’ll meet the artists themselves. Participate in art works in progress. Meet the artists. Check out their work. Take part in art works in progress. All artists want to involve you as part of their work.

Art Works is an experimental part-exhibition, part-arts residency program where artists engage the public within the museum’s Solari Gallery. They’ll spend a substantial amount of time creating work with visitors like you in their studios. Artists work with museum staff to create a studio environment within the space, speak with museum visitors about their work, exhibit works, offer gallery talks, and participate in hands-on activities with the public.

Meet the artists currently in Art Works
Meet previous Art Works artists
Exhibition-related events
Art Works Wishlist
Host an Art Works artist at your home this summer


Meet the artists currently in Art Works


stefwolfStef Wolf

Visit Stef in the gallery from August 9th – September 25th, 2016
Create with Stef this week:
Thursday, Sept. 15, 11am-3:45pm
Friday, Sept. 16, 11am-3:30 pm; 5-9pm
Saturday, Sept. 17, 11am-5pm

Embroidery 101: Special Event Thursday, Aug. 18, From 2-4pm
Tell your own stories of movement and place through the art of embroidery with Stef Wolf. Stef is a Santa Cruz based artist whose work focuses on both childish whimsy and the intersection between social justice and empathic connection. A major concern for her is authentic connection in a world that seems increasingly defined by bifcurcation and political subterfuge. Stefanie has focused on empowering others through teaching hands-on textile arts skills and is a co-founder of The Fábrica: Community Textile Arts and Salvage Cooperative. Stef is a social worker by day, and holds a Masters in Social Work from San Jose State University.


Grant Wilson

Visit Grant in the gallery from August 23rd – September 25th, 2016
Create with Grant this week:
Friday, Sept. 16, 11am-9pm

Create social justice puppets with Grant Wilson. Grant is a puppet builder, social-political street theatre performer, community advocate & arts publicist. He co-founded Santa Cruz Art & Revolution Convergence in 1998 which received a Gail Rich arts award in 2002. He’s a graduate of UCSC (Psychology + an Art Therapy emphasis) & has been involved in collaborative community projects in Santa Cruz since- the last Millennium.

Grant Wilson’s large puppet builds revel in the creative use of cast off materials, shaping forms with simple tools and integrating multiple elements. Designed to move and interact with people and the environment, the puppet-making process encourages participation.


Gabriel Sosa

Visit Gabriel in the gallery from August 23rd – September 25th, 2016
Create with Gabriel this week:
Thursday, Sept. 15, 11am-5pm
Friday, Sept. 16, 11am-9pm

Examine the impermanence of memory and its consequences for justice while creating oral history with Gabriel Sosa. Gabriel is a linguist and interdisciplinary artist working primarily in drawing, sound and video. A 2016 graduate of the MFA program at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, he is originally from Miami, Florida.

Gabriel Sosa draws upon both his work as a court interpreter and his own family history to create archives of drawings and oral histories. Testimonies explores the potency and fallibility of memory through a series of interviews with museum visitors, integrating his research methods with his experience interpreting in the justice system.

Meet previous Art Works artists



Nanci Amaka

Nanci was in the gallery from May 31st – July 11th, 2016

Create mono prints and portraits from your scars and reveal the stories behind them with Nanci Amaka. Nanci is an interdisciplinary conceptual artist focused on ideas surrounding trauma, identity, memory and the liminal spaces between experience and language. Having spent her formative years in a rural rainforest village in Nigeria, she now lives and works on a hill overlooking Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. Nanci’s paintings and drawings explore global displacement due to widespread ecological destruction. Her sound sculptures and textile pieces address the effect of trauma on our sense of identity. Her lectures and performances are about the experiences of people she’s interviewed on the matter and her own personal narrative. Nanci received a BA in Visual Critical Studies from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and an MFA from California College of the Arts.

Her work focuses on memory, trauma, and identity; which are all shared human experiences. Scars are also ubiquitous. We have all fallen down, cut ourselves, or been hurt at some point in our lifetime. Sometimes, these events stay with us on our bodies and minds. Bringing together the shared human experience of going through hard times and coming out on the other side, Santa Cruz Scar Stories is a continuation of a project working under the hypothesis that the action of remembering allows for understanding ourselves in a new way.



Carmina Eliason

Carmina was in the gallery from June 28th – July 11th, 2016

Recreate domestic spaces with food, drink and cultural conversation in La Casa de Cultura y Comida with Carmina Eliason. Carmina is a Bay Area artist who uses photography, social practice, and performance to make interactive spaces to instigate conversation, connection and reflection on culture, identity, and contemporary social issues. She is currently a MFA candidate at San Jose State University. Carmina’s work has been exhibited regionally, as well as in Mexico and Iran. During the day Carmina is a photography and fine art teacher and at night she dreams Star Trek characters are her side kicks.

Beginning with stories and experiences from her own life, Carmina engages the public in conversational exchanges about topics that are difficult to talk about such as domestic violence, immigration, and identity. Carmina often recreates common domestic spaces based on the homes and culture of her family who lives in Mexico to start these conversations. In the past she has made tortillas to explore feeling like a multicultural imposter, tea to talk about domestic abuse, and salsa to create conversation about the differences and similarities between Pakistani and Mexican culture.



Lanier Sammons

Lanier was in the gallery from June 28th, 2016 – July 25th, 2016

Create a piece of music with 100 other visitors and Lanier Sammons. Listen to what they’ve created here. Lanier is a composer, recordist, and educator. Lanier’s music often explores ideas like audience interactivity, improvisation, the intersection of popular and classical musics, and the pairing of electronic and acoustic sound. His works have been featured at SEAMUS, the Spark Festival, the Jubilus Festival, the San Francisco International Art Festival, and on EcoSono’s Agents Against Agency DVD release. Ensembles such as the Talujon Percussion Quartet, counter)induction, the Da Capo Chamber Players, Relâche, Post-Haste Reed Duo, and Friction Quartet have premiered his pieces. He serves as lecturer at California State University, Monterey Bay teaching courses on recording technology, composition, and a variety of other topics.

For Lanier Sammons, audience-interactive music making provides both a chance to share the pleasure of musical creation and a rich set of compositional challenges. Lanier’s work aims to explore the new ways of thinking about musical form and material that participatory processes offer and to confront audience interactivity’s particular demand that the composer craft consciously and effectively the social environment in which and from which the music emerges. Through this exploration, Lanier hopes to provide visitors with engaging, expressive, and novel musical experiences that pull back the curtain on the acts of composing, performing, and recording music.

sashapetrenkoSasha Petrenko

Sasha was in in the gallery from July 12th-August 8th, 2016

Build human-sized nests out of fabric scraps with Sasha Petrenko. Sasha is a San Francisco based interdisciplinary artist, educator and Artistic Director of The New Urban Naturalists. Her work utilizes sculpture, performance, prose and visual media to draw parallels between earth science and human relationships. Petrenko’s projects have been featured widely at national and international venues including the Headlands Center for the Arts, Southern Exposure, the Lab, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the de Young Museum of San Francisco, the University of California, Berkeley, the Los Angeles County Arboretum*, Robert Wilson’s Watermill Center for Performance in New York, Oberpflalzer-Kunstlerhaus in Schwandorf, Germany and at Kulturfolger in Zurich* Switzerland.

Sasha will be working on a series of human scale baskets or nests created from repurposed materials and donated textiles. She will be requesting textile donations from the public and in exchange will offer several drop-in weaving workshops where visitors can help build the collective nests or learn to make their own.


Abigail Han

Abigail was in the gallery from July 12th – August 22nd, 2016

Taste the recipes of historical and contemporary Santa Cruz in our gallery kitchen. Abigail Han is a practicing artist originating from Singapore and currently living and working in Los Angeles. She makes experimental films and uses performance, video, installation, and drawing in her work and is interested in exploring concepts of collective memory, fragmentation of identity and language. Her work has been exhibited in Singapore, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Hong Kong, Paris, and the Czech Republic. She recently graduated with an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts.

Abigail bridges the private space of the kitchen with the public space of the museum. Exploring Santa Cruz’s place on the coast as a hub for trade routes, the gallery kitchen will feature how historical recipes are an amalgamation of cultural roots. How does culture shape the food we eat? How does the food we eat shape culture? Given Abigail’s Singaporean roots, food has always been an interest to her. But the food’s place of preparation has remained a mystery, an offstage space. A void of historical and cultural knowledge. During her residency, Abigail charters the kitchen to the surface where she will explore historic and contemporary recipes with the public.


Kevin Devaney

Kevin was in the gallery from July 26th – August 22nd, 2016

Step into the Poetry Parlor and forge your own poems with Kevin Devaney. Kevin  is a graduate of the Sarah Lawrence College MFA program and a spoken word advocate. He is the founder of the Santa Cruz’s Only Weekly Poetry Open Mic, the Sarah Lawrence College Spoken Word Collective, The Northampton Poetry Brothel, Northampton Poetry, and the former Art Bar & Cafe Philanthropub. In his free time, he likes to try to devise new ways for art to intersect with daily life.

Kevin Devaney is a poet who is interested in writing the raw, moving poem of the moment. He wants to find the door to your heart, forge the key, and transport it underneath your pillow with words. The rest of it is, of course, up to you.


Related Blog Posts

Curious to learn more? Check out these blog posts by our exhibitions team.

Behind-the-Scenes of Our Upcoming Summer Exhibition

Conceptualizing Art Works, Our Summer Exhibition

The Aesthetics of Art Works, Our Summer Exhibition